How to tell if a Loved one should see a Psychiatrist

In our efforts to take care of those we love, we sometimes realize they need more help than we can give them. The decision to tell your loved one s/he needs a psychiatrist or to find help for them is extremely difficult. The more you love the person the more difficult the decision becomes. On the other hand, finding help for your loved one takes precedence over your wish to avoid the issue.

Some of the reasons one should seek a psychiatrist for a loved one include suicidal thoughts or feelings, odd behavior, sudden changes in behavior, withdrawal or depression that lasts for more than a couple weeks, an extreme (and new) negative outlook on life, and an inability to cope with day to day life. As the loved one, you should see these changes in your loved one before any one else. Unfortunately, we often find ourselves too close to the situation to see clearly. When we do realize the seriousness of the problem, we should do everything in our power to bring our loved one help by getting them to a psychiatrist or other type of counselor.

First, however, you need to accompany your loved one to his/her medical doctor and discuss the issues you have noticed. Keeping a log of dates, times and symptoms once you begin to see a problem will help the doctor understand the issues. The doctor will help you evaluate the problem and rule out physical causes. You should always inform his/her doctor of any issues because the doctor sees the person on a regular basis and can observe changes over time. A doctor that is not informed cannot make good decisions about the loved one’s health.

Once the doctor has eliminated physical causes and confirmed your fears concerning your loved one’s need of psychiatric or other help, s/he can often make a referral to the appropriate person. This eliminates looking in the phone book or other type searches and may help convince the loved one of the need to seek help. In the end, only certain types of psychiatric disorders can be treated without the patient’s consent, so your loved one will probably need convinced. This is one reason a doctor is so important, your family member can put you off, but will likely to listen if their physician tells them to go for help.

Remember that your loved one may not realize what’s happening, and your nudge can help him/her understand that what they are going through is not normal. You can make a difference in your loved one’s life by taking a hand in helping them gather the help they need to live a healthy, fulfilled life.